CES 2018: CTA Expects Major Growth for AI in 2018

LAS VEGAS – Artificial intelligence will play an increasingly significant role in the technology sector in 2018 and beyond, expanding to new devices and applications even outside of IT-related tasks, according to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Even before the Consumer Electronics Show, which CTA produces, officially started June 9, it was already clear from the first two days of news conferences that AI was expanding into a growing number of products, including TVs and appliances, from the mobile phones and smart speakers that most consumers likely first became acquainted with the technology through in the real world.

U.S. smart speaker shipments soared from 7.2 million in 2016 to 27.3 million in 2017 – whopping 279% growth, Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at CTA, pointed out in a news conference providing his organization’s consumer tech industry forecast for 2018.

CTA expects shipment growth won’t be that significant in 2018, but still impressive, increasing 60% to 43.6 million, while revenue will jump 93%, to $3.8 billion. Smart speaker shipments are then expected to grow to 56.8 million in 2019, before declining to 52.1 million in 2020 and to 47.2 million in 2021, according to CTA’s estimate.

In the meantime, AI is playing a key role in the growing autonomous driving category, although most consumers have yet to even experience that first-hand.

Outside of IT-related tasks, meanwhile, top areas in which companies are already using AI include detecting/deterring security intrusions and financial trading, according to CTA. Retailers, meanwhile, are already experiencing the “tangible benefits” of AI for cost savings, increased productivity and other areas, Lesley Rohrbaugh, senior manager of market research at CTA, said during the same news conference.

CTA expects that what’s next for AI is conversation with text that will allow people to “truly converse” with AI to a much greater degree, it said. CTA also expects greater trust of AI by the average person using it.

Also projected by CTA is a 25% increase in U.S. virtual reality (VR) product shipments in 2018, to 4.9 million units, with revenue growing 18% to $1.2 billion, it said. CTA expects U.S. smart home product shipments will grow 41% to 40.8 million units, with revenue increasing 34% to $4.5 billion.

In 4K TVs, CTA expects unit shipments will increase 27% in 2018, to 22 million units, with revenue growing 14% to $15.9 billion.

Total U.S. consumer connected device shipments are expected by CTA to grow 6.6% in 2018, to 715 million units, and then increase in single digits each year through 2021, when shipments are expected to reach 791 million units, it said.

Other major trends identified by the CTA analysts included eSports and other sports innovation, as well as digital therapeutics, which it projected will help offset the rising costs of healthcare in the U.S. Related to the latter trend, CTA noted VR can be used to treat trauma.